Yoko Kanno Does Not “Make Up” Languages

Yoko Kanno doesn’t “make up” or invent languages for the songs she composes. Her alter-ego, “Gabriela Robin“, does.

I’ve always loved Yoko Kanno’s music ever since I watched Tenkuu no Escaflowne (The Vision of Escaflowne). I may not be an expert in music, but I find hers to be so distinctive that I can usually tell if a song/score was composed by her. That was the case when I watched the crappy film, Ashura-jo no Hitomi and heard the song Perdeski Cloyn. I immediately thought that it sounded very Yoko Kanno. And it turns out that it is.

Much like Kanno’s other songs in Escaflowne and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, I had no idea what language “Perdeski Cloyn” is in. I did my usual Google search, but I couldn’t find any website that actually specified what language the song is in. So I hopped on over to YouTube, found a video with the song in it, and posted a comment, hoping that someone watching the video would be able to enlighten me.

And then someone said: “if it’s yoko kanno it’s probably a made up language.”

Actually, “Perdeski Cloyn” and some other songs with lyrics by “Gabriela Robin” may be written in made-up languages, but there are songs with music composed by Yoko Kanno actually come in a variety of real languages, including Russian, Romanian, and Italian. Most of the songs’ lyrics, however, were written by the singers who performed the songs themselves or by different lyricists; not by Kanno or Robin.

Here’s a list of some non-Japanese, non-English Yoko Kanno songs with links to lyrics and streaming mp3s/videos, where available.

From Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

  • Rise, performed by Origa – Russian/English [Lyrics]
  • I Do, performed by Ilaria Graziano – Italian (with bits of English) [Lyrics]
  • Dew, performed by Ilaria Graziano – Italian [Lyrics]

From Cowboy Bebop

From Wolf’s Rain

So there we have it. Just because you don’t recognize the language in a Yoko Kanno song doesn’t automatically mean it’s made-up, especially if the credited lyricist is someone like Ilaria Graziano.  If the song’s lyrics aren’t in Japanese or English and were written by “Gabriela Robin”, however…that’s another story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *